Northampton SB learns lesson in behavior support

 

Northampton Area School District, like many school districts across the nation, recognizes the importance of educating students with behavioral and emotional disabilities.

At Monday evening's school board meeting, Dr. Steven Kachmar, supervisor of psychological services and district psychologist, presented to board members supports for students with emotional and behavioral disabilities and a brief showing of the documentary movie "Who Cares About Kelsey?"

According to Kachmar, 20 percent of adolescents in schools experience developmental issues and 70 percent of those with mental health problems do not get the help they need.

Kachmar said the issues are hard to diagnose because children are prone to hide their problems from adults.

"Their difficulties are more than temporary," he said.

Kachmar also said only 40 percent of students with emotional behavioral disabilities graduate from high school compared to 76 percent of all high school students.

Additionally, only 10 to 25 percent of students with emotional behavioral disabilities enroll in higher education compared to 53 percent of all high school students.

Two programs, Kachmar said, are used to address the challenges associated with behavioral and emotional issues: Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports and Rehabilitation for Empowerment, Natural Supports, Education and Work.

PBIS helps to build relationships, involve families and address the needs of the whole family.

"This is still in progress," he said of PBIS. "Despite support, kids in the district still have problems."

RENEW strives to help the student complete high school, secure gainful employment, pursue secondary education and become actively involved in the community.

"From this process, we plan for their future," Kachmar said.

District Superintendent Joseph Kovalchik recognized the importance of assisting students with behavioral and emotional issues.

"We have many students like Kelsey." Kovalchik said. "It's our responsibility to educate them--all of them."

There will be a public showing of the movie "Who Cares About Kelsey?" Oct. 28, from 6-8 p.m., in the Northampton Area High School auditorium.

The movie chronicles Kelsey Carroll, a student at a public high school in New Hampshire, with a myriad of behavioral and emotional issues, who is on a mission to graduate from high school.

In other business, the school board unanimously approved the resignations of elementary school teacher Patricia Daubenspeck and music teacher Mark Jonkman for the purpose of retirement.

Daubenspeck has taught in the district for 29 years and Jonkman for 36 years.

"A public thank you to both of them," Kovalchik said. "It's a big loss to the school district."

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